In November 1861, the CSA Arms Factory started in Wilmington, and later in September 1862, owner Louis Froelich relocated the manufactory to Kenansville in Duplin County.
After working for a few months as a foreman at the North Carolina Button Manufactory, Froelich unknowingly partnered with a sham artist, Colonel B. Estvan, and started the CSA Arms Factory in November 1861. The armory employed approximately seventy workers, who produced various bayonets, knives, and swords. The confederacy’s Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens, visited the factory during its earliest days and praised the finished products’ quality. For a year the CSA Arms Factory produced weapons. During late 1862, people learned that Estvan had lied about his military experience in Hungary. Froelich severed ties and assumed full leadership of the company.
Under Froelich’s supervision, the CSA Arms Factory created innovative technology. For instance, Froelich designed a weapon that can be compared to the modern-day tank. Froelich designed a triangular sheet-iron shield that surrounded and moved with a horse and a man, who fired a 36-shot repeating rifle. The Confederate government deemed the apparatus too costly and never offered Froelich a contract.
After a fire destroyed much of his property and yellow fever killed many of his employees, Froelich relocated his company in mid-to-late 1862 to Kenansville.
William A. Albaugh III and Carl Puguese, Confederate Edged Weapons (San Jose, reprint, 1996); Tom Belton, “Recent Acquisitions: Rare Sword Enhances Collection,” The Cornerstone, IV (1996); CSA Sword Factory Foundation, “History” http://www.csaofkenansville.org/ (accessed December 7, 2008); Robert J. Cooke, “Sheathed in Mystery: Louis Froelich and the Confederate States Armory, Kenansville and Wilmington, North Carolina,” manuscript, Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina; North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program, Confederate Arms Factory http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?ct=ddl&sp=search&k=Markers&sv=F-27%20-%20CONFEDERATE%20ARMS%20FACTORYLeon H. Sikes, “The Swords of Kenansville,” Footnotes,, LVIII (1995).